Jeter fans to end Yankees’ loss to Orioles
NEW YORK — When Derek Jeter came up with two outs in the ninth inning Tuesday and a chance to tie the game or win it, the thought of another clutch hit crept through everyone’s mind.
New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi thought Jeter might have another big moment in him, and so did the Baltimore Orioles.
It did not happen that way, as Zach Britton struck out Jeter for the final out of Baltimore’s 5-4 victory that pushed the Yankees to the brink of elimination from the playoff race.
“He threw hard sinkers,” Jeter said. “He made some good pitches. It was a short at-bat. That’s pretty much it.”
Jeter came up after center fielder Brett Gardner beat out a slow roller to second baseman Jonathan Schoop. With the remaining portion of the 43,201 fans on their feet in anticipation, Jeter took a called strike one before swinging and missing at the next two pitches.
“You’re thinking that he’s going to hit a home run or get a hit and see what happens, but it didn’t happen, unfortunately,” Girardi said. “But I got a pretty good feeling when he’s up there.”
Jeter said he was looking to extend the inning. After going 1-for-5 with an infield single, he is 10-for-25 (.400) on his final homestand.
When Jeter could not come through or extend the inning, New York’s magic number for elimination was reduced to one.
“All you can do is play tomorrow and win a game and get some help,” Girardi said.
The Yankees would be eliminated if they lose Wednesday afternoon, meaning that Thursday could be the first time Jeter plays a home game after the Yankees were officially eliminated.
“He always seems to find holes and gaps,” Baltimore right fielder Nick Markakis said. “He’s a guy that uses the whole field, and he’s clutch in situations like that. I thought Zach went out there and did a pretty good job.”
Added Orioles second baseman Kelly Johnson: “He’s got a few in him, so there’s always another chance of him doing something big.”
Markakis and Johnson helped the Orioles reach the ninth with the lead as part of Baltimore’s 17-hit night.
In his second game back from a shoulder injury, Markakis went 4-for-5 with a two-run home run in the fourth. It was his fifth four-hit game of the season, and tied a season high with three RBIs.
Johnson, who played for the Yankees until July 31, hit his seventh home run in the second and had two other hits.
However, it was left fielder Nelson Cruz who provided the Orioles with what wound up as the go-ahead run when he opened the fifth with his 40th home run. Cruz became the sixth Oriole to hit 40 home runs, joining Jim Gentile (1961), Hall of Famer Frank Robinson (1966), Brady Anderson (1996), Rafael Palmeiro (1998) and Chris Davis (2013).
“That’s a lot of home runs,” Markakis said. “Forty home runs, those days don’t come every day, and he’s been pretty consistent all year with his home runs, and 40 home runs is fun to watch, and I know it’s fun for him.”
The Yankees trailed 4-0 before left fielder Chris Young drove in a run with a groundout in the fourth. New York second baseman Stephen Drew lifted a sacrifice fly in the sixth, cutting Baltimore’s advantage to 5-2.
New York made it a one-run game when catcher Brian McCann hit his 23rd home run of the season against Andrew Miller, a two-run shot in the seventh.
After Miller struck out third baseman Chase Headley for the final out of the seventh, Tommy Hunter pitched a perfect eighth, setting up Britton’s 36th save.
Baltimore right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez (6-9) held the Yankee hitless into the fourth. He wound up allowing two runs and three hits in five-plus innings.
Brandon McCarthy (7-5) had his worst start with the Yankees, allowing five runs and 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings.
NOTES: New York 1B Mark Teixeira said he will take a week off after the end of the regular season before starting offseason workouts. Last year, he waited until January after wrist surgery. ... New York CF Jacoby Ellsbury missed his fourth consecutive game due to a strained right hamstring, although he did some light exercising. ... Baltimore 1B Steve Pearce missed his fourth game in a row with a right wrist injury. He hopes to take batting practice Wednesday and return to the lineup Thursday. ... Orioles INF Kelly Johnson made his first start of the season at second base, a position he has played most of his career until this year. ... Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said RHP Chris Tillman will start Game 1 of the American League Division Series.